Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Last Christmas Project

Hey ya'll! Hope everyone had a blessed Christmas! We had snow on Christmas Eve and that always makes me happy! Yesterday we had another 3" or so. 4 snows so far makes this an unusually wet winter. If this keeps up, we'll have a really amazing spring!

I just wanted to pop on here for a minute and share the last Christmas project of the season. I know most of you are tired of Christmas, but I've had some requests to share this and this is the first chance I've had to do so and it's easily adaptable for other occasions.

On the 23rd I decided I needed to make this. A neat gal (Thanks Elaine!) on a site I frequent (Hi SS buddies!) made one and I thought, "well that looks like a quick, easy project". The original idea came from here:

Then I started thinking how you could make these for different seasons and holidays and how they would make great gifts. So I made one and I really like the way it turned out, but if any of you attempt one like it, it comes with a warning....

The project starts with a jellyroll bundle which is a thick roll of fabric cut in 2 1/2" widths. Then you just cut those into 5 1/2" lengths and start tying them to your wreath form. Well, first off those jellyrolls are expensive and I found some fabric on sale and added some that I had in my stash. Thus, you have to cut it yourself and use pinking shears on the edges. It's a lot of cutting folks. I used 6 yards of fabric and then added some brown tulle, which by the way, is very uncooperative. I purchased a wire wreath form at Hobby Lobby. And I tied...and tied...and tied....for 2 days. And here's the warning...your fingers will hurt... that night... and the next day...a lot.

And no, I don't need any reminders about the fact that I am no longer a spring chicken.

I imagine if you just worked on this a bit every day instead of tying for 4 hours straight at a time, you might not run into the achy finger dilemma. However, once I start a project, I have trouble walking away from it. My Mom even called me a bulldog, referring to my stubborn determination. But, I did finish it, and I ended up giving it to her, but here's the end product:

As the stiffness and aching faded, I must have forgotten (once again, nothing to do with my age!)my resolve to never make another because when I was in town the other day, I found myself purchasing the perfect material for a Valentine's wreath...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hebbert Family Christmas - 2009

Good Gravy, the year has been here and gone - doesn’t seem possible, yet here
The baking has started, the lights are all strung, and the carols are filling the air.
Our box at the end of the dirt road is filling fast with holiday greetings we love so much
It’s a treat to hear from each of you; thanks for keeping in touch.

We were blessed with good snow on the first of December and we couldn’t resist going out
First thing at daylight I was out snapping photos, it’s something I’m crazy about.

The ducks in the tank looked awfully cold, enjoying the little dirt lake
The magic of snow just makes my heart glad, Christmas spirit in each falling flake.

This year brought great sadness as I lost my Dad and the world simply tilted I fear
And although I’m devastated and we’re all saying “he’s gone”, God is celebrating and proclaiming, “He’s here”!

Changes seemed to mark 2009, as Tyler graduated and began college this fall
I’m adapting better than I expected, but miss that kid and looks forward to each and every call.

Caitlin at 16 has started taking college classes, earning dual credit – college is headed her way
She’s 4-H president, still plays the piano and her love for horses is still a priority these days.

Gary stays busy with cattle and horses and he shoots at the range when he can
He brought home a big deer, loves working with colts – he’s never still and always has a project on hand.

As for me, I’m getting a taste of that empty nest - seems our homeschooling days are about to end
Not liking it, not in the least, but it’s been a blessing and new adventures lie just around the bend.

As for now I’m enjoying the quilting and scrapping and wondering what God has in store
For soon it’ll be quiet, school books packed away and no children to teach anymore.

I’m sure I’ll be drafted to fill in the gaps, as the kids have helped so much through the years
We wouldn’t change a single thing, loving this lifestyle through laughter and tears.

They say ‘count your blessings’, well that’s hard to do; don’t think I can count that high
We’re drinking from our saucer, giving thanks to the Lord, and knowing He is always close by.

So for now we’re enjoying our time with the kids and celebrating the new roads ahead for all
May your Christmas be blessed and the New Year be bright and may Christ be the center of it all.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Christmas Elf

Whew! I'm pretty sure this time of the year is crazy busy for everyone and you would think that we would be prepared. I mean, we do have 365 days to get ready! I would do good to take a bit of my own advice. Most of the hustle and bustle is self-inflicted. I know that Christmas is not about the baking and decorating and gifts, after all, the greatest gift of all has already been given and Christ was the one who gave it.

Still, this time of year rolls around and we're all scurrying about. I myself have asked Santa for an elf and a few extra days. Searching..searching...searching...nothing. Sigh. Heck, if I hadn't spent so much time searching, I might have gotten all my gifts made! I have come to the conclusion that I am the Christmas elf. Just hope I don't end up sprouting pointy ears.

I know it's been a coon's age since I've posted. I apologize. Hopefully I'll get back in to the swing of things. We've had company recently. My BIL and his 3 little cuties have been here. My Mom's flying in for a week tomorrow. BIL and kidlets are returning on Tuesday. Heading back out on Wednesday. My little house at the end of the dirt road will be packed, and I may very well be running around in circles, but there's always room for one more although that 'one more' may end up having to sleep in the kitchen!

This year I made quite a few gifts and I've had a few requests to see what I've been up to so I thought I'd share. My sewing machine has been humming nonstop for quite some time. For the most part, I made lots of pillowcases. I like giving homemade gifts and these are fun and don't take weeks to complete. I found instructions on making a french seamed pillowcase that doesn't leave any exposed seams. Here are 6 I made. I enjoy choosing special fabrics for each recipient. I used to make these for the kids when they were little...which we all know was just yesterday.

I also made 3 sets of these:

I've had mine for years and I still think they are neat so I made some for some dear friends.

I made a bunch of handmade cards for my mom, but I forgot to snap photos and they are already wrapped and under the tree. I never know what to get her, but she writes tons of cards and I thought this would be something she could use.

I also made this rag quilt:

It's the first rag quilt I've made, and I really enjoyed making it although I was tired of pink by the time I completed it. I made it for my best friend whose favorite color...yep, you guessed it, is pink. She also has a husband and 4 boys and I figured if I made the quilt pink, there was less of a chance that it would end up being confiscated for some hunting trip!

I made lots of the Whopper Reindeer I made last year too. I think I posted those last year.

Finished baking and all plates have been delivered, but won't post all of that again. Look at December last year if you want to know. I don't think I made anything new or different.

My Christmas corny poem, is still sitting in the addressed envelopes on the desk. Still need to pick up the photos tomorrow and pop them in the mailbox. I told myself I wasn't going to write one this year, but then the cards started pouring in and every one remarked how they were really looking forward to that poem...sigh.

Yes, I'll post it in a few days. Ya'll are ruthless, but I love you anyway!

Here's hoping you'll all take a few moments from your insane list of things to do and reflect on the blessings in your life. I know that for me, it always puts things back into the proper perspective. Even Christmas elves are more efficient when they remember what's really important!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Captive Once More...and Enjoying It

So our second week of Fall Works has begun. Yes, I am once more a slave to the kitchen. Tied to the sink. Bound to the stove. Tethered to the stacks of dirty dishes. Anyone taking pity on me yet?

Hmmm...I didn't think so. Sigh. Once more I am flying solo in this venture, but hey, it was worth a try!

Please excuse my attitude. Sleep deprivation affects me that way. Once our children had navigated the waters of babyhood, I thought I was free and clear of sleepless nights. Actually, my nights are not exactly sleepless now...they're just not long enough! 3:45 AM is just a tad too early to be rolling out of bed.

I know I gripe and moan about my long hours in the kitchen, but truth be told, I do enjoy it. Certain aspects of it anyway. I enjoy that the men look forward to a good home cooked meal. I enjoy doing my part and being a help-meet to my wonderful husband. I enjoy sharing the leftovers with the sweet family at North Camp. I enjoy finding new recipes to add to the menu. I enjoy the sparkle in the crew's eyes when their favorite dessert is dished out. I enjoy the groans of contentment from the crew when they push themselves away from the table. I have even been blamed for popping the button off of someone's britches. LOL!

It's one of the wonders of life that I ever even learned to cook at all. My Mama is a great cook, but growing up I didn't want any part of the kitchen. I even weaseled my way out of taking Home Ec in school. Woodshop was more to my liking. I can scarcely recall how I survived college and poor DH really took a chance because his Mama is a good cook too and I didn't have a clue how to make a pie or a biscuit or much of anything that was edible. My apologies to the crews I fed in those early years and to my sweet husband.

Thankfully, the good Lord stepped in and took control and today I can whip up a mean batch of rolls! I'll bet He had a good laugh or two while I was growing up and scoffing at kitchen utensils.

I don't think I'm a great cook, but I do like making a good home cooked meal that people enjoy. Others have fabulous, fulfilling careers, but I find comfort in keeping the home fires burning. Better the home fires than the biscuits, although truth be told - I've scorched my share!

There is something to be said about the gathering of good food and good friends and with a cowboy crew, there is never a shortage of good (albeit, wild) stories. I have heard tell that storytelling has become a thing of the past. Not so. Cowboys are doing their part to keep the last bovine escape...the wildest bronc ride...the funniest roping tale...the great trailer debacle...or the most reckless colt account alive and well and I dare you to keep a straight face during the telling. It's entertainment at its finest. The first 5 minutes are filled with only the clinking of ice, the buttering of biscuits, and the scraping of utensils against the tin plates. It's awfully quiet, but not for long. Soon you hear...'One time I'...and they're off on their next adventure.

Well I had better scoot off to fry up another chicken fried steak and pop another batch of biscuits in the oven before the next round of wild tale tellers arrive!

I leave you with a special prayers of thanks to God for keeping the lid to the vanilla closed when it chose to fall into the mashed potatoes this morning.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Missing Daddy

OK. Let's see if I can do this.

For those of you that don't know, I lost my Daddy, suddenly, on August 29th. Daddy, who was in excellent health passed away from a massive brain bleed. I've been in Texas, with Mom since then, but I drove back home on Tuesday. It was so hard to drive away from her, but at the same time, it was so good to be home. I've been in a strange suspended state these past weeks. There has been so much to tend to, but Daddy's last gift has made wading through all the paperwork so much easier, He left us 6 pages of instructions of what to do in the event of his death. He updated it every year or so and always sent me a copy. Of course, I never even glanced at it. I simply tucked it into our safe box and never gave it a second thought. Now I marvel at it. He documented step by step who we should call and what we should do. Everything from where everything was located to what we needed to bring to each appointment. At a time when the world seemed to be turned upside down, we were able to handle one thing at a time. DH and the kids stayed with me for a week and then headed back home. DS needed to get back to college, DD has just started taking college courses as well, and DH had to get back to the ranch.

I have always been madly in love with my DH, but I have to tell you that I am now even more in love with him than I could ever imagine. This man was there in every way possible. He did things that needed to be done before we even knew they needed to be done. He was the voice of reason when all reason had left us. He was the quiet rock that held us up when we thought we were drowning. How on earth the good Lord brought this man to me I'll never know, but I am so thankful that He did.

Mom and Daddy have been truly blessed with incredible friends and the outpouring of love was simply overwhelming. Some of their friends stayed back during the service to set up a reception at the house and accept the ridiculous amount of food that poured in. They shooed people away at a decent time and cleaned the entire house afterwards. My cousin flew in from Germany, friends came from all over the state and country, and it was simply overwhelming to see and hear about how Daddy touched each and every one.

My Daddy was a gentle soul who had an amazing sense of humor. His infectious laugh will always make me smile. He was the smartest man I knew - so intelligent and I don't know anyone who didn't love and respect him. When I had a question and would ask DH, he would often answer, "Call and ask your Dad." He knew so much about so many things yet he would never admit it. He was quiet and humble, but always the first to lend a helping hand. The friends he made throughout his life remained close to him through the many years. He was the best Daddy and the perfect Opa to our kids. Oh my, how his eyes would light up at the sight of them and they simply adored him! I honestly don't feel worthy of being his daughter.

I will treasure the endless memories. The times I crawled into his lap for comfort. The times he taught me to always take pride in a job well done. The way he taught me to look to the Lord for guidance. The look of pride in his eyes when I waved my college diploma in the air. The day he walked me down the aisle. The first time he held his grandchildren. The way his eyes would sparkle when they would run to him, yelling, "Opa!". The list goes on.

He often sent me things in the mail and I will miss those envelopes. When I arrived back home and sorted through the mail, there was an envelope from him. The last one. I haven't been able to open it yet, because as long as I don't, I will always be able to look forward to reading one more note from him.

Daddy was born in Ulm, Germany in 1935, to a family who often didn't have enough to eat. He joined the US Air Force in 1957 and came to the United States on a ship with $5 in his pocket. He had tours in Greenland, Iceland, Turkey, and then he was sent back to Germany where he met my Mom. They married and she came back with him to a country where she couldn't speak the language or drive a car. Mom and Daddy honestly lived the 'American Dream' and they are part of what Tom Brokaw calls "The Greatest Generation". They scrimped and saved and helped people along the way. They built a beautiful life together and somehow got stuck with a daughter who took the road less traveled, but always was thankful for their guidance and love.

Daddy once started to write about his life and I often urged him to work on it and pestered him with questions about how far he'd written. I found that manuscript the other day. He dedicated it to me, but had only gotten as far as the age of 16. No matter, although I wish he had been able to complete it, I will treasure each and every word, as well as each and every moment we had together.

I apologize for my ramblings, but writing has always been cathartic for me and this piece would not be complete without the following:

I am a Daddy's girl and I often thought that the world would cease to exist should he pass away, and although I am convinced it tilted on it's axis, I have been amazed by God's grace each and every step. I would look back on the day and wonder how did I manage to speak to a roomful of Citizen Alumni Police Officer Association members, or how was I able to make sense of the 2 hr meeting with the financial advisor, or how could I put together a slide show for the service at the Funeral Home on Thursday evening. Simply put.

I didn't.

I wasn't.

I couldn't.

God did.

God was.

God could.

And each and every day I was amazed at how He carried me through each and every second. That's not to say it wasn't hard because it was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced, but I was able to do all that needed to be done because:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

And throughout this I have felt His presence, His arms, His touch, His love more than ever and He will continue to be by my side.

Even at a time like this; I am thankful. For every moment with Daddy. That he did not suffer. For my family. For my friends. That the Lord is in control and that He loves us even more than we can possibly imagine.

A few days after Daddy's passing I received a devotion from Max Lucado. It was a free download for Chapter 6 in his new book "Fearless" and it touched me greatly. I'll add the link here:

God's timing really is perfect because this came at the perfect time. God's timing is always perfect and at a time like this, that's hard to understand, but I believe it. Grace is an amazing gift.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. They are all truly appreciated. I know all of this will take time, but I know too, and am comforted by the fact, that Daddy is finally truly home.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Don't Blink

So, not only did our daughter just turn 16 - yesterday we took our son to college. 2 milestones in 2 weeks. I'm not sure I'm up to this. No, he's not moving cross country. Yes, he'll be close enough to come home on the weekends, but still I can't help but remember that little blue-eyed baby who needed me for everything. Needless to say, I will NOT be perusing the scrapbooks and photo albums for a while, because I'll turn into a big tear-stained mess.

I'm thankful though because our children are entrusted into our care to raise and to love and to eventually send out into the world and become independent and it comforts me to know that he's not out there completely alone. God loves him even more than I do and I have to let him go in order for God to accomplish what he has set out to do. I know it's time and I know that the Lord has prepared me for this and I am confident in the young man that seems to have sprouted overnight.

In case y'all haven't figured it out - I tend to get emotional easily. I don't anger easily, but play 'Don't Blink, or "It Won't Be Like This For Long", or "I Can Only Imagine" and watch me bawl. The kids have me pegged. They know which songs will start the flood. They look over at me at the pivotal part of the movie to see if "Mama's crying". They know which commercials make my eyes well up. They think it's funny and in turn, that makes me laugh too.

I knew this day would come. I just didn't think it would get here so soon. It wasn't that long ago he was just a wee little lad:

I have been truly blessed to be a stay-at-home mama. I worked until the day I went into labor. DH and I had discussed this beforehand and although there were plenty of times we had to pinch pennies, we never went without and the blessings along the way have been too numerous to count.

Now, I'm not against working moms. In fact, I stand in awe of how y'all get it all done, but this was simply the right choice for us. The kids were in school for a few years before we began to homeschool and I subbed every day DH didn't need me to help him. It was hard! I also automated a library for about a year. We spent so much time there that they hired me, but that's the extent of my working Mama experience and my hat's off to all of you who do it each and every day.

Even so, all the countless hours I had to enjoy raising our children disappeared all to quickly. I have always been cognizant of time moving quickly, but it still caught me by surprise. I think my penchant for photography might be my way of stopping time or at least capturing it. I treasure those snapshots from childhood and we have all spent countless hours flipping through the photos, reminiscing. We never took big, fancy vacations, but I don't think the kids missed that. Our albums are filled with the small everyday moments that make a childhood memorable. At least I hope they remember those times fondly.

Yesterday was a good day. Everything went smoothly. There were so many employees and upperclassmen there to help and the moving part was painless. The trip to the bookstore...not so much. This is what $500 looks like. OUCH!

I never lived in a dorm, but I have forgotten how tiny they are! He's on the 6th floor. At least he has a view of some open spaces:

I think this is the tallest building this country boy's ever even been in.

I think the most difficult part of the transition will be sharing a small room and the lack of quiet. Heights aren't really his thing either, but I think he'll be ok.

We met his roommate and they seem to be a pretty good fit - both boys came armed with the mandatory camo accoutrement's.

DH and DD and I left after dinner and headed back home. I faired better than I thought I would, but good gravy, it was hard driving away from there! The tears come and go at the oddest times. I'm just trying to keep busy. I worked in his room yesterday. I counted 23 guitar picks! Now I think I'll work on some simple pillow shams for 2 huge pillows he can throw on his bed in order to make it a bit more comfortable.

Last night DD was IMing on the computer and I asked her who she was talking to. She was talking to her brother. LOL! Then a bit later, he and I had a conversation over texts. My goodness, how the times have changed. We didn't even phone home much when I was in college because it was too expensive and no, that was NOT during the ice age as our children like to call it!

He just phoned DD - one of her favorite bands is playing a concert at the college. She's envious, but I told her her she would be heading off before long herself, but I would rather NOT have to think about that at this juncture.

I had a hard time going to sleep though. I really missed hearing his guitar that he plays every night and when I got up in the middle of the night, his room was empty.

He was up and about awfully early this morning and headed to breakfast and then church - good boy.

I'm trying not to hover. I've been called a mother hen on more than one occasion - by my own mother no less, but I think I've done a pretty good job of letting go.

Now if I can just make it through until Friday...he's coming home for the Ranch Rodeo! Gotta remember to make his favorite cookies to take back with him...

So for those of you who are raising little ones, you may think the days are dragging by, but be forewarned...don't blink...

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Quilt that Went to College

I've been working on a quilt for DS to take to college for some time and this morning I added the final stitch!

When I started this project I asked him what kind of quilt he wanted. He first said that I didn't need to make a quilt.

Excuse me? Send you to college without a quilt? Impossible! A quilt is like a little piece of home. A comfort in the storm of final exams. A refuge from dorm life.

Well, it will keep you warm anyways.

His second answer? Camo.

Camo he requested and Camo he got although the initial fabric he chose was a brushed cotton and we had to nix that fabric after it refused to cooperate. Seems it had something against being ironed and it faded horribly. So on to fabric #2 which was better behaved.

A dear friend from Florida who quilts too suggested the Bear Paw pattern when I was floundering for a pattern. I have smart friends. It was the perfect choice. It was my first attempt at the pattern and I was apprehensive about my quilting ineptitude, but I was pleased with the results. Most all of my seams match and I didn't even cut off all the points.

This actually turned out to be a prayer quilt because I sewed a prayer into every seam. One for safety... one for discernment... one for protection... one for seeking God's guidance...and so on. It almost turned into a 20' quilt! LOL!

I had planned on quilting it myself, but in the interest of time, or lack thereof, I caved and took it to a longarm quilter in town. I've never had one quilted, but I just might have to save my pennies because she did a beautiful job. DS chose the quilting pattern and thread color and we're all tickled with the finished product. I took it in on Wednesday and she phoned me on Friday saying that it was ready to pick up! It took me two days to make the binding and hand stitch that on and this morning a new quilt was born:

Someone else decided she had to test drive it first:

It's really a rather simple quilt, but it was sewn with love in every stitch. After all, that's what quilts are all about.

Off to work on another's a sickness.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From This to This...

Breathe. Seems I'm having to remind myself to do that a lot lately. For the most part, life at the end of the dirt road moves along at a different pace than life in town, but here lately, it seems to have moved into the fast lane. The days and weeks and months and years are moving all too quickly for this 'sit on the porch and visit a spell' gal.

Our daughter recently turned 16.

She went from this:

To this:


Seems that way anyway. Guess I'm showing my age. Daddy always said that time sped up as you got older. If that's the case, then I look pretty good for my age.

Still, I would gladly accept any and all tips for making time slow down.

This kid is not your typical teenage girl. She's perfectly thrilled with hand me downs from Daddy and her older brother's closet. She hates to shop. She's so grounded in her faith and who she is. Wish I had been so sure of myself at that age. She's an original and has never been one to follow the crowd. She's not afraid to stand up for her beliefs and go against the grain of what other kids are doing. She's got a sweet, independent spirit with a little bit of spice thrown in for good measure. She's a homeschooler who is socialized.

I've lost count of the number of people who warned me of the dangers of homeschooling. Number one on the list was the lack of socialization. LOL! Not a problem around here! In fact, this kid's social life is wearing me out! She's equally comfortable around kids and adults.

Just spent Saturday with 10 of her friends. One spent the night Friday. One Saturday. Another came from out of town for Saturday's festivities. 11 kids ate pizza. 10 kids went to the movies and Dairy Queen. 6 kids came out here to swim in the dirt tank and take part in a massive mud fight. Hot dogs were consumed and a fire was lit in the fire pit.

Now she is off for yet another sleepover with one of those sweet friends.

On the 9th, another friend is coming from out of town to spend a few days here.

We just got back from a 4-H State Conference trip where she met numerous new friends she added to her network. (Thank you, Charlie, for my Texas Aggie Fight Song Ringtone!)

I can't keep up with her.

She's such a joy. Yes, she sometimes balks when I ask her to do the dishes or help me in the yard, but she's an amazing kid. I cherish the many evenings when she comes into our room and sprawls out on the bed for a good long visit. She talks to me about a lot of things and I am so very thankful for that.

I know lots of parents who don't enjoy their teenagers. I'm not one of them. I love watching them grow and learn. They make mistakes and stumble through the potholes of life, but I'm holding on to the knowledge that God will be with them every step of the way.

May His love always shine through you and I send prayers of thanks to Him for giving me the privilege of being your Mama. I love you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Sweet Sound of A Froggy Seranade

Oh happy day! After too many parched days and many petitions, our prayers have been answered! Yesterday we awoke to find this:

4" in one rain! That's not something you see every day around these parts and it's a huge cause for celebration! It seems the rain covered a good part of the country so be prepared for rain posts from many of us. When you ranch, rain is a big deal and every drop counts!

DD and I spent much of the morning splashing through the mud and the muck and wading in the newly replenished dirt tank. After more than a year, it's refreshing to see it holding water once again. DH couldn't even get around the ranch because the roads were too wet. We were also out of electricity until sometime about mid morning so he couldn't even work in the shop so he headed to town to run errands and fill a cart at the local Home Depot. None of us enjoy making trips into town, but if you have to go because you've had too much rain, that's a good problem to have. Actually though, there is no such thing as "too much" rain around here. We just don't want to tear up the roads too much. DH was able to check one more rain gauge at Antelope and he poured out 5.1" there. Needless to say, we are ecstatic! And so very thankful for this perfectly timed blessing!

It's always a good day when it is one spent with a good friend:

It was so nice and cool and crisp out - a welcome reprieve from the 100+ degrees we have been experiencing these past few weeks.

DD and I spent all morning outside, behind our cameras. It's been too long since we enjoyed a morning like that. It felt good to spend time enjoying the view from the lens again. DD has a wonderful eye and she captured some amazing shots and this one, which leads me to the 'frog' portion of my post, is one of my favorites.

Isn't he cute? I swear he's grinning! Yes, I know these are not frogs, but 'toad' seranade just didn't have the right ring to it so I am taking creative liberties.

When we receive a gully washer like we did yesterday, the peace and quiet disappears. It is instantaneously replaced by the sound of 1000's of toads croaking. It's another one of God's perfectly designed mysteries about how these critters can live underground in the desert for years on end, without nary a sign of their existence, and then suddenly pop up when the rains arrive. And they literally do pop up within an hour of the rain's arrival. The sound is defeaning and you literally have to yell to be heard above it, but it's a beautiful sound and last night I enjoyed being lulled to sleep by their symphany. They'll be around for a few days and then disappear as suddenly as they arrived.

I wanted to share a few more shots I took yesterday. The horses always make for fun photo subjects, as does DD, who takes after her mom when it comes to getting in position to capture that perfect shot:

The horses were feeling quite frisky after the rain. A good roll in the cool dirt always makes one's spirits soar:

As does a dunk:

This old tree is one of my favorite spots to snap shots.

Cooperative subjects. On the count of three...drink.

I think she got the shot:

But I'm thinking she should have pulled on waders instead of irrigation boots:

And I love this one:

The horses took their time and leisurly meandered across the expanse of water, towards the
pens to partake of a late breakfast:

I miss ya'll when I'm away. Hope all is well with y'all. Things have been crazy, busy around here, but I hope to check in more often. No promises though, the remaining days of summer seem to be slipping away all too quickly. I'd like to throw a rope around them and dig in my heels to slow them down, but if I did that today, I'd probably just end up being covered in mud...which come to think of it...that's not such a bad thing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Missing Ingredient

Remember me? I apologize for being MIA lately. I've simply been swept away by summer. I've written dozens of posts in my head, but they never seem to make it to the keyboard. Haven't really taken part in anything earth shattering, just the normal, day-to-day running in circles. Cooking for a crew, tending to the garden and yard work, working on home improvement projects, making quilts, getting DS ready for college, and keeping up with DD's social calendar. But, things have been piling up and it's getting kind of crowded in my little, chaotic brain so I thought I had better take the time to sit with you a spell so here you go...

I'm a throw it together kind of cook. I love recipe books, but if I don't have all the ingredients, I have been known to substitute. That works pretty well with cooking. Baking...not so much. It's imperative that you have all of the ingredients. I mean, who wants to go through life without baked goods? Not this family!

So I was really looking forward to a garden this year. I figured we would have whatever was ready to pick for dinner that day. So I built and hauled and planted and watered. I lovingly tended my fledgling project each and every day. I tossed the tomato worms off with a vengeance. I fought a valiant battle with the cutter bees. I watered as the sun rose. I watered as the sun set. I heralded each and every new growth. No, I did not weed. There may actually be something to this square foot gardening thing! And it grew. Slowly. In the desert. The only green thing for miles around. Then we were blessed with this:

That beautiful green and yellow was the answer all along and you should have seen the lightening that accompanied this storm. What a show! All the fireworks this weekend couldn't hold a candle to the one last night. The missing ingredient was a blessing from above. Seems you can water until the cows come home and just keep things hanging on, but bring on the rain and watch everything take on a life of its own! I am harvesting my first 2 heads of lettuce today! Note to self: start earlier next year. Since I'm new at this, I'm still getting a feel for how long I should wait between replanting, but I do believe that the rainy season has arrived. There simply is no substitute for the water sent directly from heaven. It's not just a figment of my imagination that things are growing overnight.

Which leads me on a rabbit trail. It's all related, but it's a rabbit trail nonetheless. We are so spoiled. We want this and think we have to have that when in reality, the only thing we really, truly need is God. I'm guilty as charged. Just have to have that cute fabric I saw in that quilting magazine or I'll just toss that cookbook that caught my eye into the basket. But, if you don't have that personal relationship with Him, then life is empty and you are missing a very vital ingredient for which there is no substitute. Without it, you may as well be baking without flour. And unlike flour, you shouldn't stash that relationship in a dark corner or your freezer. Keep it on hand at all times. Your life will be richer and more fulfilling and... His. It's my fervent prayer that everyone have an endless supply of life with Him. When he breathes life into your soul, it's like a good, soaking rain with a rainbow on the horizon:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Yep. It's been a while since I posted, hence you get the title of this post. Just bits and pieces of this and that. Makes me think of all the bits and pieces of fabric I have stashed that are desperately crying out to be made into a quilt. Must make time to get that done.

So apparently summer has arrived. Didn't someone once describe them as 'the lazy' days of summer? Hmmm... Kind of makes me wonder what kind of life that person led because 'lazy' doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight around here!

No complaints it's a biggy - I am going to voice my complaint about the lack of RAIN! Things are looking quite dismal around here. There was, and still is, a pretty good sized fire burning on a place just to the east of us. DH drove over there the other day. They've got 60 people from various departments working on getting it extinguished. It's in a difficult spot. Lots of sandy ranch land that you can't get to easily. They even had numerous planes dropping fire retardant in the area. The good Lord is receiving a continuous flow of rain prayers from our little corner of the world. In fact, he's probably being bombarded. But, we're also sending up prayers of praise and thanks because we are always abundantly blessed.

We actually got away last weekend! First time DH has been away from the ranch overnight since last August. I think a night away was long overdue! We made a quick trip to Albuquerque and browsed the aisles of a gun show, watched some friends compete in a hunter/jumper horse show, and spent hours at Guitar Center where DH was very serious in making his selection. DH and I bought him an electric guitar for graduation. The kid is crazy about his guitar. He has an acoustic that he plays all the time and loves, but when one is addicted to the guitar, one can never have too many. Or so I have been told! Grin!

It was a fast, but wonderful trip. We pulled into town at 7:30 on Saturday night and drove right to the rodeo arena for the PRCA Rodeo. DH's cousin is a saddle bronc rider as well as one of the pick up men and we always look forward to catching up with him when he's in town. He lives in Nebraska so we don't get the chance to see him other than when he passes through. Saturday was his night - he won the whole thing! Very cool!

Then my SIL and her new husband and my nephew stopped by on their way home and ate dinner with us. DD also had a friend out that day so I had 9 for dinner. We really debated when we were making the decision on getting a dining room table. I'm so glad we got this big one. I love it and heaven knows we've always got extras gathered around it!

So now we're back on track and our days are filled with ranchwork, yardwork, and housework. I love getting out in the early morning and making the rounds in the garden and yard. The garden is coming along well although I have no doubt that it would benefit greatly from some rain. I have decided that I'll start next year's seeds indoors in order to get a head start because it would be nice to be harvesting something from the garden before the end of June.

Yesterday DH and I made a 300 mile round trip to Hereford, Texas to take a load of cattle to the slaughter house. That's such a sad place. It would be a depressing place to work. I'm too much of a softy, but DH cheered me up with a stop at a quilt store in route. Sweet man! I didn't linger long though because I was planning on meeting some people in town later that afternoon and as soon as we arrived back at the house, DD, who was a dear and made dinner and cleaned the kitchen, and I headed to town. I met up with a neat couple from Virginia. A is on a scrapping site I frequent and yes, I met someone from the Internet (don't scold), but what a fun couple they are! They were traveling cross country and meeting lots of people from our group. We enjoyed a couple of hours visiting and lingering over Cokes and Mexican food and BLTs before they headed down the road. I love making new friends!

DH and the kids are out sorting cattle and working on their roping skills. One of DD's friends asked to come out for a bit so I guess we'll have company this afternoon. Goodness, that girl and her social life! She pretty much puts the 'homeschoolers are lacking in socialization skills' argument in the dirt.

So that concludes my rambling for the day. Hope ya'll have a good one! I've got to head into the kitchen and get some cookies baking for Cowboy Church tonight before it gets too hot!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On the Cusp of Musical Greatness - Tyler Bryant

Don’t know if y’all have heard of this kid or not, but mark my word – you will! Oh my goodness!

DS and I went to see him at the local Winery in town and we were completely blown away! This kid is a phenomenal guitarist, not to mention, an unbelievably talented songwriter! And he’s just 18! He’s crazy talented! He has a true gift for music.

The drummer and bass player are uber- talented too and it's hard to believe they have only been playing together for a month. They definitely make a great team. Jake runs the lights and sound and everything behind the scene and Tim is their manager. They are all very cool.

And he and his band are just plain nice guys - so polite and humble and personable. They don’t drink or smoke or cuss and they were just so well spoken - good kids with exceptional talent. I wanted to bring them home, feed them a good homecooked meal, stay up all night and listen to them play, and send them down the road with a batch of homemade cookies.

Tyler’s roots stem from the Blues, but he’s so versatile! He plays soulful acoustic, impressive blues, and sensational rock. His passion for the music was palatable in that room last night and I had to hold back tears.

This kid is crazy talented! Y’all are gonna be surprised because you probably don’t think this is the kind of music a dirt road gal like me would listen to, but dang! I LOVE good music – of many genres, and this is just great stuff!! I have a very eclectic taste in music. Genre means nothing to me. I like it if it speaks to me and this kid's music does just that. His writing transcends all genre. He's an 18 yr old with an old soul - an amazing young man.

Tonight they’re playing with B.B. King and then they’re touring with Styx and REO Speedwagon. Someone’s sitting up and taking notice. Someone’s intelligent and knows a good thing when they hear it.

While visiting with his manager, he asked me which of his music I enjoyed the most. All of it. Tyler is so incredibly versatile that I think they’re having a hard time pegging him down into a musical niche. I told his manager that Tyler needs his own niche. You can’t put this kid in a box. He lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes music and I get that from the songs he shared with us last night.

I don't enjoy big venues and there was something wonderful about the small, intimate gathering last night. Tyler is so good at drawing in the audience through his music and stories. He's just so genuine.

They don’t even have a CD out yet – it’s in the works for fall. I. Can. Not. Wait.
I’m a lot of things, but I never thought I would be a 45 yr old groupie! LOL! DS bought a shirt and we may have to fight over it.

You can hear a little bit here although I don't think it does him justice. Hearing and watching him live was definitely an evening I will remember for a long time. So if you get the chance to see one of his shows, take it. Hold on tight, cause you're doing what's right. Kudos to you, Tyler, you're on your way and the sky's the limit!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Warning - DIY Zone Ahead

I apologize for my recent absence. Since branding a few weeks ago, we've been knee deep in one project after another. Since I last checked in with ya'll, we made a screaming trip to San Antonio to celebrate my Mom's 70th Birthday the day we finished branding. The garden is planted and flourishing as much as a garden can flourish... in the desert... during a drought. And suddenly, it seems as if summer has arrived and we're looking at a DIY summer.

Do ya'll ever watch those home improvement shows? I don't watch much television, but I must confess that I enjoy watching these shows. Seems as if they have been multiplying quicker than rabbits - there are a ton of them and they're fun to watch. However, yesterday I decided that they are more fun to watch than they are to actually do yourself. I am fascinated that an entire landscape, or room, or house can be altered in the course of one 30 minutes show - make that 20 minutes, commercials - you know.

So I come away with a plethora of ideas, but empty pockets and I hate to add any more expenses to the ranch. DH is very cognizant of making this place run in the black and unless it rains, that's going to be a challenge so I'm hoping to make some changes on a shoestring budget and my shoestringas are pretty short these days.

The past few months we've dabbled in DIY territory. We've replaced the vanity in the bathroom, removed nasty popcorn ceilings (whatever possessed people to think this was a good idea?!), and gutted the closet in the master bedroom and rebuilt it more efficiently. Yesterday I began to tackle our ancient kitchen. It took me 4 hours to strip the shiny red paint from the middle of the door jams. Ugh! This wood is ancient and thus, it has been nicked and gouged and bumped into with furniture and who knows what all. Looking at the pieces, I think they just used whatever they could find to construct it in the first place. So, now, many years later, I am fussing at the door jams and whinning because my hands hurt... a lot.

If the door jams could talk, I imagine they would have a few things to say. "We have served the occupants of this household for 100 years now. Just wait and see if you don't have a few scrapes and scars after a century lady!"


I just keep thinking how simple this would be if everything was smooth. Alas, nothing, and I mean nothing, in this house is smooth, or level. Not the doors. Not the floors. Not the walls. Not the ceilings. However, it's home and I have come to affectionately call it, "My Little Crooked House on the Prairie". It has character and lots of potential. kind of like me! Grin!

So, I will forge ahead and commence stripping in the kitchen. A while back, Ranch Wife was stripping in the barn and I'm sure Cotton Picker could add to our stripping adventures (cover your eyes) - we're a wild bunch I tell ya!

Yesterday DH, DS, and Grandpa came in for dinner and were greeted with piles of red paint chips decorating both the kitchen floor and me. DH asked me what color I was going to paint. Heck if I know. I haven't gotten that far. One thing at a time.

Have ya'll seen that commercial for paint? I forget which brand, but the lady is standing at the paint chips looking quite frazzled. She has a wild look in her eyes and her hair is standing on end. That's me. I have a terrible time choosing paint. It never looks the same on the wall as it does on that cute little paint chip card. But, I like to paint and if painting was all I had to do, this house would have been painted long ago, but first things first and first the paneling needs to go. Then we'll probably have to re-sheetrock. Then texture. THEN paint. Whoo boy!

I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle the walls just yet. I think I'll redo the kitchen cabinets first. Now I'll just have to gather up the courage to visit the paint section at the Do It Yourself Center. Just thinking about it is enough to make me tremble. Maybe I can conjole one of my posse to tag along. Just spin me in a circle a couple of times and point me towards the paint selections.

So it may be a while before I make another appearance. It may be in your best interest to let the stripper and paint fumes clear the air first.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rise and Shine!

Come on people! It's 3:30! Daylight's a burning! Well, not literally, but breakfast was at 4:30 this morning. By the time daylight actually made an appearance, I was ready for a nap!

Yep. We're branding this week. It's only the first day so coveting a nap at 6 in the morning on the first day is not a good sign. Our crew rolled in last night from Texas and their arrival officially signals the beginning of our Spring Works.

I think we'll be able to get everything worked in 5 days. I think I can handle 5 days. 400 some odd calves. 14 meals. 130 plates - give or take.

We all actually really look forward to working every spring, but for some reason, we're all rung out this week. Maybe it has something to do with the weekend away last weekend, or the fact that everyone in this house is sniffling and feeling under the weather, or the manic trip to San Antonio we have coming on the heels of branding, or the triple digit temperatures that have chosen to make an appearance in May, or the fact that we're weary from gazing into a cloudless sky in hopes of spying a rain cloud. Sigh.

So after a breakfast of waffles and sausage and eggs and fruit and muffins, the crew stacked their plates and jingled out to the pens. I enjoyed letting the cool, fresh air of the morning drift through the open kitchen window as I washed the breakfast dishes and scrubbed down the kitchen. I then enjoyed a leisurely walk through my yard and garden as the morning light began to spill over the horizon. I'm not a big fan of getting up this early, but I must admit that taking some time to be still and greet the light of day is worth it. The colors of the morning are really breathtaking. I once read a book to the kids called "God's Paintbrush" and I was reminded of it this morning. The Master Painter has given us a new work of art each and every morning so instead of grumbling about having to crawl out of bed at such a crazy hour, I am going to enjoy the show and this particular morning was especially spectacular because we had misty skies! Rain is preferred, but it's a start! Cool, damp, drizzle is a cause for celebration! The smell of rain must truly be what heaven smells like!

The scent of honeysuckle first thing in the morning was a treat too and I lingered a few moments to gently weave the gangly new shoots betwixt the wires of the chain link fence. The tomato and pepper plants seemed to enjoy their morning shower and I made the rounds amongst the fruit trees that I planted at the completely wrong time of the year last summer and celebrated the fact that they are thriving. I even had company. The Western Tanager seemed to follow me as I meandered this morning. There is something very therapeutic about my early morning sabbatical. It's one of the things I love most about the summer.

So now dinner is calling and I've got to take the Apple Crisp out of the oven. One of my summer rules is that all baked goods must be made by 9 in the morning. This kitchen is impossibly hot in the summer and I do all within my power to not turn on the oven after 9. I've been threatening to knock a hole in the wall between the kitchen and dining room for years now. The fact that this house is a century old and it is quite possible that the roof would come crashing down if I did, is the only thing that has kept me from taking a sledge hammer to said wall. Well, that and the fact that the crew might not enjoy the taste that a fine dusting of sheet rock powder would add to the biscuits.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

25 Things My Mother Taught Me

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

2. My mother taught me RELIGION.'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

4. My mother taught me LOGIC.'Because I said so, that's why.'

5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT..'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'

7. My mother taught me IRONY'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

13 My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.'Stop acting like your father!'

15. My mother taught me about ENVY.'There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.'Just wait until we get home.'

17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.'You are going to get it when you get home!'

18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE..'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to stick that way.'

19. My mother taught me ESP.'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

20. My mother taught me HUMOR.'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'

21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'

22. My mother taught me GENETICS.'You're just like your father.'

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.'Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?'

24. My mother taught me WISDOM.'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

25 My mother taught me about JUSTICE'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!

Happy Mother's day to all you Mamas out there!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fresh Mountain Air and Shotgun Shells

I apologize for neglecting y'all lately. Seems we haven't been home much and when we are home, we're running in circles. This past weekend we packed up and headed to Raton in northern New Mexico for the 4-H State Shooting Sports Competition. It's a weekend we always look forward to. It's also a weekend that wipes us out. So I am feeling rather uninspired, but I'll catch you up on the latest because we had an awesome weekend!

The shoot takes place at the NRA Whittington Center. What an amazing facility! People gather from all over the world for various competitions at this center and it's 'must see' for the shooting enthusiast. Think we'll plan a vacation north of there in order to take some time to shoot there this summer.

We headed out early on Friday morning so that DD and DS could get in some practice before the competition on Saturday. They don't have a full Shotgun team - only DD and DS shoot. There is quite a change in altitude and the conditions vary on different ranges so a few practice rounds are always beneficial.

Needless to say, the kids had so much fun that they shot 12 rounds of skeet and trap. They probably shouldn't have shot so much the day before the competition, but they had a ball together. Something about the fresh mountain air and the smell of shotguns being fired...well, we just got carried away. I didn't take any pictures while they practiced since I was the puller.

Taking a break:

And apparently it didn't hurt any because DS ended up placing 3rd in the state!

We are so proud of him! He shot 45 out of 50 birds on Trap and 45 out of 50 birds on Skeet so his total was 90. The second place shooter scored a 91 and the 1st place shooter shot 92 so it was a close race! DD came in 12th. We're tickled pink with her showing since it's her first year to compete at the state level. With 90 shooters, that's not too shabby!

The kids also placed 2nd as a team in air rifle. DS placed as 10th high individual and DD placed 12th. Pretty good for a year where their regular shooting range was being remodeled so they didn't get in the practices they usually do. They shot that first thing in the morning.




Since it was held indoors, we were hoping the fog and drizzle would burn off before they shot shotgun, but no such luck.

The kids have a full day running to and from their various disciplines, but there's always time to mug for the camera:

We had a smaller team this year - only 8 kids, but there wasn't any shortage of fun! There is always a dance on Saturday night so that pretty much zaps any remaining energy the kids may have left. Most of the kids (and many of the adults!) use the ride home to catch up on their sleep. In fact, I didn't drive at all. DS and DD did all the driving. I could get used to this!

Everyone pitches in when it comes to providing grub and it always looks like we're feeding an army, but anytime teenagers are involved, that's pretty much what it takes to keep them from staging a mutiny:

Think that fire's hot enough?

DS never leaves home without his trusty sidekick...his guitar. So before everyone else arrived, he and DD played and sang on the front porch.

Then he and Wade, another fellow guitar addict, put on a full fledged concert that evening:

Something must have tickled his funny bone:

As in previous years, it was cold and drizzly. The only other weather we have during this shoot is snowy and windy, so cold and drizzly is the preferred option. As you see here, our bunch is always prepared for whatever mother nature has in store:

We've got a great bunch of kids and it's nice that everyone gets along. With 10 people sleeping in a 400 square ft cabin with one bathroom, that's quite a feat! In the rare instances where one gets out of hand, we have our own way of keeping things in line:

Looks as if someone still needs to burn off a little extra energy before heading out for that long drive home:

Here's our motley crew:

Before we know it, we'll be heading back up there for next year's Shoot!
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